The outrageous and appalling behaviour shown by David Nalbandian during The Queens Club final against Marin Cilic has, to some extent, raised the issue of code violations handed to players behaving badly. What...
The outrageous and appalling behaviour shown by David Nalbandian during The Queens Club final against Marin Cilic has, to some extent, raised the issue of code violations handed to players behaving badly. What Nalbandian did which resulted in the bleeding injury to a linesman’s left leg cannot be condoned by anyone. Certainly Nalbandian would not have intended doing what happened, hurting someone, but he and he alone is responsible for his actions on court. I find it ridiculous that people, including players feel that he was possibly hard done by. The rules are the rules and the rule clearly stipulates such an action is an instant default. The matter has escalated in that Scotland Yard has become involved because some quirky aspect of British law indicates that this is a matter of assault and as a result a potential criminal investigation is on the table after charges were brought up. The code violation rules had gone overboard some years ago and they created a sport that was clinical. For that you can thank the likes of John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, the late Vitas Gerulaitis, Ilie Nastase, Andre Agassi and a couple of others. Since then the ATP World Tour has begun to relax things to a great degree. If there are some repeated digressions then a chair umpire will have a word with the player during a match telling them they are skating on ice. Continuation of the behaviour then results in an official warning which will then lead to a point penalty etc. Nowadays if a player breaks a racquet, they are not really going to get warned unless things have gotten out of hand. Tom Barnes was the ATP Supervisor at Queen’s. He is one of the most experienced officials in tennis and a long-time friend of mine having worked closely with him at a number of tournaments around the world. He addressed the balance that has been reached with the code violation rules. “A few years ago we used to fine players for breaking racquets, and we would fine them for hitting the ball out of the stands. We no longer do that unless that action is dangerous to somebody. Then we would. We don't even give them a warning for the racquet unless they deform it,” said Barnes. “So we've tried to address just what you're talking about to give the guys a chance to let off some steam by smacking the ball somewhere or breaking a racquet over their knee. So maybe they get a warning, but that's as far as it goes, and we don't fine them for that behaviour any longer. That's how we've dealt with that. “In most cases, I think it works. We don't see a lot of bad acting. (Queen’s final incident) just probably could be more bad luck than anything else.” On my Twitter account @crosscourt1 many people said its one rule for some players and another for other using the example of Novak Djokovic in the French Open final cracking his courtside bench with his racquet. It is a completely different scenario. No one was close to being hurt during the Djokovic incident. If, however, some part of the racquet or the bench had struck someone, it would have been all over – instant default. As a rule the players are well behaved. I believe tennis officials have got the right balance but what I would like to see more of is a complete co-operation between the ATP and the Grand Slams. Right now there is some separation and I don’t think that is necessarily good for the game. If aspects like drug testing etc. are administered as a whole in tennis then I maybe things like code violations should be as well. You don’t want to stymie the sport to the extent where there is no life in it. Players need to be able to show their emotions but keep things in check enough so as not to result in unfortunate mishaps. For David Nalbandian it was an expensive lesson; he lost his prize money which was at least 44,000 Euros, all the ranking points, fined $10,000 and was humiliated in front of an international TV audience. You would hope he learns from it but I really wonder because he actually felt he should have been allowed to play on. Here is a list of some other incidents with men players that have cast dark moments on the sport: 1. John McEnroe being defaulted at the Australian Open when playing Mikael Pernfors 2. Andre Agassi being defaulted in San Jose and Indianapolis 3. Umpires association going on strike and refusing to call Vitas Gerulaitis’ matches at the Melbourne Indoors 4. Lleyton Hewitt alleged racist comments at the US Open when playing James Blake 5. Juan Ignacio Chela spitting towards Lleyton Hewitt at the Australian Open 6. Jeff Tarango and his wife Bridget’s outbursts at Wimbledon 7. Goran Ivanisevic being defaulted for running out of racquets in Brighton because he’d broken them all … well, that incident was actually a very funny one. Can you remember any such incidents, then let us know at wearetennis.bnpparibas ?